The stone comes from McKeon’s limestone quarry, Kilkenny where the different beds of stone are labelled alphabetically – the “O” refers to the O bed of the quarry from which the stone came, a bed which contains a high concentration of oyster shell fossils.
“M” for Medieval Museum
This “M” stone was carved to decide the appropriate size of lettering for the new Medieval Museum, Waterford.
The museum has a 12 metre high Bath limestone façade and required strong large-scale lettering. At this scale, the lettering serves not only as signage but as an architectural feature. The deeply carved v-cut lettering ensures it does not rely on good lighting to be read clearly.
Bath stone, which would arrive in Waterford as ballast on ships in medieval times, was used extensively for carved features throughout the city.
The Leuven Alphabet was one of the first fonts designed specifically for the Irish language. It was created by Bonaventure O’Hussey, an Irish Franciscan monk in Leuven, Belgium in the early 17th century.
The new font was created in response to the Irish font commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I and used by her to spread Protestantism and English influence in Ireland by issuing pamphlets in Irish.
Leuven used this new font to issue Irish Roman Catholic catechisms for many years.
The design styles itself upon early Irish manuscripts and has set much of the tone for subsequent Irish font designs.The font was used on leaving cert exam papers until the widespread introduction of the universal typewriter made it redundant in the mid 1960’s.
Here the Leuven “G” has been adapted for carving in stone rather than printing on paper.